Brandon: How would your party support rural education, and what is your stance on the closure and amalgamation of rural schools?
Nolan: Rural education is extremely important to our party. We did stop the closures of the schools. The last Liberal government did close hundreds of schools under their watch, and there’s a memorandum on stopping that. So knowing that rural schools are a vibrant part of our communities – I’ve heard that loud and clear throughout the area. Our stance on the closures: we weren’t super happy with what was going on under the previous Liberal government. I think there were a couple of hundred schools that were closed across the province, specifically being the rural schools, so we have halted that completely, because schools are extremely important to the communities that they’re in.
Brandon: What would your party do to support small businesses and local commerce?
Nolan: Well, that’s one thing that’s extremely important with the Doug Ford government, “getting it done” is our slogan this time around for this election. They do have, you know, a red tape committee that’s trying to remove red tape for all businesses across the province. One of the components, though, is getting businesses online. That’s something that the province has helped out with, is to try to get an online presence. Obviously, that’s come about because of COVID and the pandemic. So that’s one thing that I believe is extremely important.
Obviously, with my business, an online presence isn’t as important as a small retailer and to be able to start selling online. But the Ford government is pretty big on buying locally and buying from Ontario. And I believe that’s extremely important for local businesses to be able to thrive, especially the small businesses.
Brandon: One of the biggest things that comes up is the size of the riding. North Dundas is a growing community. Are there any projects that would be investment priorities for the province locally?
Nolan: If I do get elected, I’m going to be meeting with council. I don’t know if you follow my page at all, but I was up in North Dundas, Winchester, meeting with Tony Fraser, and about six or eight other locals in that regard, just to hear what their priorities are. But you know, it’s not necessarily for the province to tell what the priorities are for the local riding, but for the riding to tell me that. Tony Fraser and I have spoken a few times. What I’m hearing from North Dundas and Tony in that regard is the need for water for the infrastructure. So again, it’s a priority of the municipality, and I need to have my marching orders to be able to do my job properly.
Brandon: Specifically in Chesterville, we’ve had quite a few residents complaining just about the aesthetic quality of their water as well. It’s always rusty or brown coloured, it ruins laundry, that sort of thing. So I don’t know if anyone expressed concern about that to you.
Nolan: I haven’t when I was door knocking, because I have been up in the area. I’ve been up in Mountain for a couple of events, and door-knocking in Chrysler and Chesterville, and that one hasn’t necessarily been expressed at this point. Duly noted on that one.
Brandon: What is your take on the affordable housing crisis locally, and what is the solution?
Nolan: Well, obviously, it’s not just a local problem. It’s obviously right across Canada. But, locally, with the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of people move out of the big cities. You know, in all the door-knocking I’ve done, thousands of doors, I would say one out of six doors are new to this area in the last 2 to 3 years, whether it was right before the pandemic, or during the pandemic. I’m amazed at how many people are new to our riding, whether it’s in Iroquois, Morrisburg, Crysler as well. We just seem to have a lot of people that have come from Toronto, or come from Quebec, or come from the bigger cities, out to the rural areas.
I believe that’s where we’ve gotten into a little bit of a crisis in this area, because of the fact that we have a lot of new people to our region. As for what the solution is to get it done. You know, Doug Ford wants to build 100,000 houses over the next few years. But personally, I believe we have a shortage on the trades. I personally believe it’s been decades in the making for the fact that we weren’t necessarily guiding high school students 20 years ago to choose the trades or to choose agriculture. But that’s our way out of this, is to really ramp up investment into the skilled trades, so that we can actually have the bodies to be able to build the homes.
Brandon: So more of a systemic approach?
Nolan: Yes, 100%, because sometimes, when the federal government does throw that money towards the problem, it actually creates even more inflation. We need actual homes to be able to buy without making them more expensive. If [the federal government] helps people get their first home, it could actually create even more of a shortage on homes if we don’t have the skilled trades to be able to develop those homes.
Brandon: How would you support the largely rural population of this riding in being heard at Queen’s Park?
Nolan: Toronto is a huge hub for our province, and there are a lot of needs that are coming out of Toronto, but the east end of the province needs to be heard, and we have needs as well. Ever since the migration of a lot of people out of the bigger cities, it’s put more pressure on our resources and infrastructure in Eastern Ontario. I guess the big thing is knowing that if I get elected, or whoever gets elected, it’s going to be all about relationships we build in Queen’s Park in Toronto to be able to be heard properly. I’ve been trying to do my homework and make sure that I know who the other MPPs are going to be, because I need to have that strong relationship to be heard around the table.
Brandon: Do you believe the COVID 19 pandemic is still of concern locally?
Nolan: I guess it depends on who you’re talking to. I believe we are still in the endemic [phase] now. You know, COVID’s going to be around for a while, if it will ever go away. But, because we have a majority of the population that is either double or triple vaxxed, that is helping relieve the pressure on the system, whether it’s the health care system, or systems in general, about the severity of sickness. But saying that, you know, I obviously have been travelling the riding quite extensively over the last couple of months. And, you know, there’s still a fair amount of people wearing masks, and it’s their choice to, and I don’t see anyone being aggressive towards anyone that wants to wear the mask in that regard. There’s going to be a ripple effect of the pandemic for years to come. And that’s where I want to be part of the decision-making process moving forward.
Brandon: Are there any issues that locals have touched base with you about which you intend to bring forward if elected as MPP?
Nolan: I think the number one is health care, and the PC government has a plan to put 30,000 long term care beds, whether they’re refurbished or new beds. So obviously, our health care system has been tested over the last two years. I know the PC government is investing in hospitals and infrastructure of our health care. With the ageing population that we do have in our riding, I have been hearing pretty consistently, just to make sure that the facilities are there so that people can go into long term care. And that’s something that we’re very committed to do. Again, meeting up in North Dundas, at the Dundas Manor – getting that to be finalized is a pretty important one in that area, and I know Bill Smirle and others have been working on that one, and it seems like it’s fairly good progress making some headway towards that. Another one would be internet quality in our area. That’s one that I have heard fairly loud and clear, specifically in the rural areas, and I know there’s constant investment into that. And the Ford government is very committed to – not to quote our slogan – but to get that done.
Brandon: We’ve covered all the questions. Is there anything else you want to add?
Nolan: I think the only thing I would add is I’m pretty excited for the challenge that lies ahead. There’s not going to be a day off, or too much time off, from the focus of the role of being our local MPP. And that’s something I do take seriously.